This is a guest post by Shilpan Patel. Be sure to read Shilpan’s other fine articles on Success Soul.
“Fortune befriends the bold.”
~ John Dryden (1631-1700) British poet, dramatist and critic.
When was the last time someone approached you with an idea that you disguised in your mind? Do you remember succumbing to this idea just for the lack of courage to say the two letter word, “No”? It may have been your best friend asking to go see a movie that inspired you least but the scary thought of him scribbling your name from his list of friends forced you to surrender. You’re not alone. Most of us have been through the enigma of enduring mental strain just to please others.
Everyone including you, me and the likes of Tony Robins face this inevitable circumstance to have intense, deep inner desire to scream a word “No” yet when the moment arrives, we struggle and surrender meekly to the army of one.
If you dwell upon this behavior, if you create awareness and develop deftness to face the dreaded inevitable moment, you can win the battle without pulling a sword from your armory. It may take a bit of adroitness to reject an idea without permeating the brain of the demanding person, but it can be done.
Why do we fear the word “No”?
There is multitude of reasons why we fear this two-lettered word. We are creatures of an environment called social conditioning. Over the years, we learn and stereotype habits from our elders, siblings and friends. These habits form a belief system between our two ears. This belief system drives our thoughts to do things that our inner voice opposes yet we listen to this devil for the powerful force of social conditioning. Even if we don’t like playing tennis, we do act to play and enjoy tennis just because our mind chatters, “Well, If I say no, I’m going to be considered inept and a buffoon. I want to be a likable person.” — As a result, you spend hours on a tennis court exerting mental agony while showing a smile on your face to others.
I’ve found two main reasons for this behavior. Good news is that — It can be changed as easily as a thermostat in your home. Once you know these mind patterns and develop awareness to squash them, you are invincible.
1. Moderate self-esteem ~
We all strive for thumbs up from the rest of the world yet we harbor this fake reality in our mind that we are not good enough. We look at the celebrities and try to compare ourselves with them. We look at a friend with a nice car or a beautiful wife and downgrade our own worth with the comparison that only exists in our mind. Over time, this mental conditioning weakens our desire to value ourselves high enough to reject the demands that we don’t feel comfortable about.
2. Desire to please others ~
As we grow, our desire to be likable and popular increasingly takes our thoughts. We believe that as the reality. We create a web of relationships and to keep feeding this ever-growing monster, we do insane things just to please the Joneses. We purchase cars, we purchase homes and other luxuries that we can’t afford only to appear successful to this ever-growing web of relationships. This desire to look successful takes a toll on our inner happiness. It foments our thoughts of surrender for the social appeasement of others.
How to overcome the fear of saying “No”?
By now you and I agree that this short word – no can do wonders in our life if we learn the skill to overcome the fear of rejection and low self-esteem that we create in our mind.
1. Keep a journal of thoughts ~
Anytime you feel like screaming “No” inside yet succumb to the demand posed, write all of the thoughts that pop-up in your mind. Our natural instinct is to kill them akin to our desire to kill those pop-ups on our computer screen. Instead, develop awareness about these thoughts and their underlying tone. By writing them down, you’ll be able to identify the source of your meek behavior. This will be your first step towards learning the art of saying “No”.
2. Put the ball back into the other court ~
Well, you’ve agreed to play tennis despite the fact that you hated playing tennis. You can hardly hit the ball with a straight racket much less hit it back to the other side. Use your weakness as a weapon of attack. You may want to say to the friend, “I love playing tennis with you but with your skill, you don’t want to waste your time playing with someone who is still learning the rules of the game, do you?”
Or if your boss demanded that you put everything aside and start working on this hot project, you may want to say — “Steve, that’s a great idea but we don’t want to offend one of our best customers, do we? I’ll have to delay the other project by a week and I’m not sure that will bode well but I know that you looked at all the facts and you might have considered that already. So, I’ll start working on it tomorrow.”
The boldness lies in our ability to say “No” with finesse and the propriety to overcome this difficult skill. The benefits it provides are infinite for the rest of our life journey.
“Boldness, without the rules of propriety, becomes insubordination.”
~ Confucius (BC 551-BC 479) Chinese philosopher.
How do you find the strength to say, “No”? Leave a comment and let me know.
Photo by Scott89